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candour to the end, whatever may happen; and that I should have no cause to reproach myself either with meanness in adversity, or insolence in prosperity. Whatever disgrace may attend, or misfortune threaten me, I am prepared. Though I am to be pitied, I am much less so than you ; and all the revenge I shall take on you, is, to leave you the tormenting consciousness of being obliged, in spite of yourself, to respect the unfortunate person you have oppressed. “In concluding this letter, I am surprised at my having been able to write it. If it were possible to die with grief, every line was sufficient to kill me. Every circumstance of the affair is equally incomprehensible. Such conduct as yours is not in nature: it is contradictory, and yet it is demonstrable. On each side of me there is an abyss, and I am lost in one or the other. “If you are guilty, I am the most unfortunate of mankind; if you are innocent, I am the most culpable. You even make me desire to be that contemptible object. Yes, the situation to which you see me reduced, prostrate at your feet, crying out for mercy, and doing every thing to obtain it; publishing aloud my own unworthiness, and paying the most marked homage to your virtues, would be to my heart a state of joy and genial emotion, after the state of restraint and mortification into which you have plunged me. “I have but one word more to say. If you are guilty, write to me no more: it would be superfluous, for certainly you could not deceive me. If you are innocent, deign to justify yourself. I know my duty; I love, and shall always love it, however difficult and severe. There is no state of abjection from which a heart, not formed for it, Imay not recover. Once again, I say, if you are innocent, deign to justify yourself; if you are not, adieu for ever. “JEAN JAcques Rousse AU.”
After hesitating some time whether he should make any reply to this strange memorial, Hume at last resolved to write to Rousseau, as follows:
Lisle-street, Leicester-fields, July 22, 1766. « SIR,
“I shall only answer one article of your long letter: it is that which regards the conversation we had the evening before your departure. Mr. Davenport had contrived a good-natured artifice, to make you believe that a retour chaise was ready to set out for Wooton; and I believe he caused an advertisement to be put in the papers, in order the better to deceive you. His purpose only was to save you some expenses in the journey, which I thought a laudable project; though I had no hand either in contriving or conducting it. You entertained, however, a suspicion of his design, while we were sitting alone by my fire-side; and you reproached me with concurring in it. I endeavoured to pacify you, and to divert the discourse; but to no purpose. You sat sullen, and was either silent, or made me very peevish answers. At last you rose up, and took a turn or two about the room; when all of a sudden, and to my great surprise, you clapped yourself on my knee, threw your arms about my neck, kissed me with seeming ardour, and bedeved my face with tears. You exclaimed, “My dear friend, can you ever pardon this folly! After all the pains you have taken to serve me, after the numberless instances of friendship you have given me, here I reward you with this illhumour and sullenness. But your forgiveness of me will be a new instance of your friendship; and I hope you will find at bottom, that my heart is not unworthy of it.” “I was very much affected, I own; and I believe a very tender scene passed between us. You added, by way of compliment no doubt, that though I had many better titles to recommend me to posterity, yet perhaps my uncommon attachment to a poor unhappy and persecuted man would not be altogether overlooked. “This incident was somewhat remarkable; and it is impossible that either you or I could so soon have forgot it. But you have had the assurance to tell me the story twice, in a manner so different, or rather so opposite, that when I persist, as I do, in this account, it necessarily follows that either you are, or I am, a liar. You imagine, perhaps, that because the incident passed privately without a witness, the question will lie between the credibility of your assertion and of mine. But you shall not have this advantage or disadvantage, which ever you please to term it. I shall produce against you other proofs, which will put the matter beyond controversy. “First, you are not aware, that I have a letter under your hand, which is totally irreconcileable with your account, and confirms mine. “Secondly, I told the story the next day, or the day after, to Mr. Davenport, with a view of preventing any such good-natured artifices for the future. He surely remembers it. “Thirdly, as I thought the story much to your honour, I told it to several of my friends here. I even wrote an account of it to Mad. de Boufflers at Paris. I believe no one will image that I was preparing before-hand an apology, in case of a rupture with you; which, of all human events, I should then have thought the most incredible, especially as we were separated almost for ever, and I still continued to render you the most essential services. “Fourthly, the story, as I tell it, is consistent and rational: there is not common sense in your account. What! because sometimes, when absent in thought (a circumstance common enough with men whose minds are intensely occupied), I have a fixed look or stare, you suspect me to be a traitor, and you have the assurance to tell me of such black and ridiculous suspicions! For you do not even pretend that before you left London you had any other solid grounds of suspicion against me. “I shall enter into no detail with regard to your letter: you yourself well know, that all the other articles of it are without foundation. I shall only add in general, that I enjoyed about a month ago, an uncommon pleasure, in thinking that, in spite of many difficulties, I had, by assiduity and care, and even beyond my most sanguine expectations, provided for your repose, honour, and fortune. But that pleasure was soon embittered, by finding that you had voluntarily and wantonly thrown away all those advantages, and was become the de
clared enemy of your own repose, fortune, and honour: I cannot be
surprised after this that you are my enemy. Adieu, and for ever. “ D. H.”
Not content with writing this exculpatory letter, Mr. Hume called on Mr. Horace Walpole, to state publicly the concern he had in the affair; and an epistolary correspondence took place between these two gentlemen, which nearly terminated in an open
“When I came home last night, I found on my table a very long letter from d'Alembert, who tells me, that on receiving from me an account of my affair with Rousseau, he summoned a meeting of all my literary friends at Paris, and found them all unanimously of the same opinion with himself, and of a contrary opinion to me with regard to my conduct. . They all think I ought to give to the public a narrative of the whole. However, I persist still more closely in my first opinion, especially after receiving the last mad letter. D'Alembert tells us, that it is of great importance for me, to justify myself from having any hand in the letter from the King of Prussia. I am told by Crawford, that you had wrote it a fortnight before I left Paris, but did not shew it to a mortal for fear of hurting me; a delicacy of which I am very sensible. Pray recollect if it was so. Though I do not intend to publish, I am collecting all the original pieces, and I shall connect them by a concise narrative. It is necessary for me to have that letter, and Rousseau's answer. Pray, assist me in this work.
About what time, do you think, were they printed?
To this letter, Mr. Walpole sent the following answer, which Hume inserted in the Exposé he published, with the exception of the first paragraph, and the concluding sentence; an omission which gave much offence to the former gentleman.
“...Arlington-Street, July 26, 1766. “ DEAR SIR,
“Your set of literary friends are what a set of literary men are apt to be, exceedingly absurd. They hold a consistory to consult how to argue with a madman ; and they think it very necessary for your character, to give them the pleasure of seeing Rousseau exposed; not because he has provoked you, but them. If Rousseau prints, you must; but I certainly would not, till he does.
“I cannot be precise as to the time of my writing the king of Prussia's letter; but I do assuse you with the utmost truth, that it was several days before you left Paris, and before Reusseau's arrival there, of which I can give you a strong proof, for I not only suppressed the
letter while you staid there, out of delicacy to you; but it was the reason why, out of delicacy to myself, I did not go to see him, as you of. ten proposed to me, thinking it wrong to go and make a cordial visit to a man, with a letter in my pocket to laugh at him. You are at full liberty, dear Sir, to make use of what 1 say in your justification, either to Rousseau, or to any body else. I should be very sorry to have you blamed on my account; I have a hearty contempt of Rousseau, and am perfectly indifferent what the literati of Paris think of the matter. If there is any fault, which I am far from thinking, let it lie on me. No parts can hinder my laughing at their possessor, if he is a mountebank. If he has a bad and most ungrateful heart, as Rousseau has shewn in your case into the bargain, he will have my scorn likewise, as he will of all good and sensible men. You may trust your sentence to such, who are as respectable judges as any that have pored over ten thousand more volumes. “Yours, &c.
“P. S. I will look out the letter and the dates as soon as I go to Strawberry-hill.”
All hopes of accommodating the unfortunate difference between Hume and Rousseau having vanished, it soon came to the knowledge of the public, who felt an interest in it, proportioned to the celebrity of the personages concerned. Both parties thought it incumbent on them to justify themselves; and, with this view, Rousseau wrote letters to several of their common friends, detailing all the circumstances of his story.
The extensive correspondence which Rousseau had on the Continent, enabled him to circulate every where his complaint, and he generally affected the greatest anxiety that all letters to him should have an envelope addressed to another, lest they should be kidnapped or opened. He wrote to M. Guy, a bookseller at Paris, who was engaged in printing his Dictionary of Music; and in this, as in all his other letters, he accused Hume of having entered into a league with his enemies to betray and defame him, and challenged him to print the papers which had passed between them. Guy communicated the letter to several persons at Paris, and a translation of it was inserted in the newspapers at London.
The publicity of this accusation overcame the scruples which Mr. Hume felt in laying the matter before the world, as longer silence might be construed to his disadvantage. In the beginning of the rupture, he had deemed it a duty which he owed to his friends, to draw up and communicate to them a narrative of his connexions with Rousseau; but he had hitherto resisted their
solicitations to print it. This narrative was now translated into
French, and published by his friends at Paris. It was immediately translated into English under Hume's own eye, who took the precaution to disposit all the original letters in the British fMuseum. The literary world, as it may be supposed, took part in this dispute between two characters so celebrated as Hume and Rousseau; and although the conduct of the latter was universally condemned, a few took up the epen in his defence. In November 1766, there was published at Paris a pamphlet under the title of Observations sur l'Exposé succinct de la Contestations qui s'est elévée entre M. Hume et M. Rousseau; and in the same year was published at London, and translated into French, justification de j. j. Rousseau dans la Contestation qui lui est servenue avec M. Hume. There also appeared at London A Letter to the Hon. Aorace Walpole concerning the Dispute between Mr. Hume and ls. Rousseau. The Parisian press gave to the public Reflexions sur qui s'est passé au Sujet de la Rusture de j. j. Rousseau et de M. Hume ; and also a very long tract, entitled Plaidoyer pour et contre j. j. Rousseau et le Docteur D. Hume, l’Historien Anglois: avec des Anecdotes interessantes relative au sujet: ouvrage woral et critique, pour servir de suite aux auvres de ces deur grands hommes. In the first part of this work, the author is exceedingly severe against Hume, but he afterwards softens a little as to him, and attacks Rousseau at great length. It is written in a sprightly style, and is rather interesting. He appears, however, to be totally unacquainted with Hume's character, and confesses and lamets his ignorance of our historian's works: the word Docteur, prefixed to Hume's name in the title, is a faint evidence of this. He is inclined, on the whole, to ascribe Rousseau's conduct à un deréglement de son esprit—et non pas à la perversité de s2?? Cato it. Even the fair sex stood forward in defence of their favourite man of feeling; and a lady at Paris signalized herself in a pamphlet, which was rewarded with the thanks of Rousseau: it was entitled La Vertu vengee par l’Amitié, ou Recueil de Lettres sur j. j. Rousseau, par Madame ***. Voltaire, on the other side, addressed a letter to Mr. Hume, in which he assailed the unfortunate Genevese with all the acuteness of his satire, and the brilliancy of his wit. While occupied in composing an elaborate review of this controversy, and gravely weighing the conduct of both parties, we accidentally met with the following jeu d'esprit in the St. James's Chronicle, the newspaper in which the translation of the celebrated letter of the king of Prussia first appeared. Before insertii:g it, however, we may premise, that it does not seem possible for any unprejudiced person to suppose that Mr. Hume could entertain the slightest malevolence towards his protégé, or that the concern he took in his behalf originated from any other